Bethlehem is a town in the Free State province of South Africa. It is named after the biblical town of the same name, but not for the reasons you may think. The Free State is known for its agricultural activities and wheat constitutes a major proportion of the province's produce. Bethlehem lies at the heart of the province's 'wheat belt'. Its reputation as a wheat producing area is in fact why the town got its name. It's been said that the biblical Bethlehem was also renowned for its wheat fields, and hence it seemed fitting that the South African town be named after the biblical one.
Bethlehem was established in 1875 on the farm Pretorius Kloof, its purpose being that of a service station, providing supplies to passing travellers. These days, the town has grown so much that it is too big to join the ranks of charming small towns like Ficksburg and Clarens. It is not so big though that it can compete with metropolises like Bloemfontein.
Bethlehem lies on the banks of the Liebenbergs River and in the shadow of the Rooiberg Mountains. It is surrounded by open farmlands and there are a number of outdoor attractions nearby. Among them, the Tepelkop hiking trail, the jet ski launch at the Lock Athlone dam (also a popular braai and picnic spot for locals) and the Golden Gate National Park just out of town. The park is home to the endangered Cape Vulture. There are a number of historic sandstone buildings in the town too as well as some provincial heritage sites.
The delightful little town of Clarens, which is not only pretty but is also home to a diverse creative community.
Bethlehem lies at an altitude of 1700 metres, which accounts for its mild climate. It is 240 kilometres from Bloemfontein.
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Welcome to Lionsrock Lodge - situated in the 1250 hectare Lionsrock Big Cat Sanctuary just 18km outside Bethlehem, on route to Clarens and 3hours drive from Gauteng.
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